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For the love of laundry: Lifesaving tips for your favorite chore

by Kristin Sullivan

Laundry used to be one of my worst enemies. Maybe it was due to the overflowing hampers that needed sorting, the disheveled piles that needed folding and/or the lack of space in my laundry room that didn’t allow me to accomplish either of those.

Could you possibly think of another space in your home that is more prone to clutter–and chaos–than your laundry room?

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But really.

After thinking about it, I realized that maybe it’s not the chore itself—but the environment where it takes place—that causes the stress. What if laundry rooms could be peaceful, organized spaces? Wouldn’t it be nice to relax and unwind, rather than drown in messes (literally)?

We broke down a few tips and tricks to help turn your chaotic laundry room into an organized clothing oasis.

Tip #1: Cut down your laundry time

According to Mary Marlowe Leverette, laundry and laundry room expert, American families do eight to ten loads of laundry per week—taking one hour and 27 minutes to complete each load. Over ten hours of washing and sorting clothes? No wonder laundry is up there on your least-favorite-chore list.

What if you could do a few things differently and drastically decrease the amount of time spent washing your clothes?

1). Sort your clothes beforehand. Clothes pile up. Adding seven different colors into the mix doesn’t help, either. Who wants to take the time to sort through a week’s worth of clothes? Use a divided hamper or separate bins to keep your darks apart from your whites. You’ll be shocked at the amount of time you save.

2). Tie up loose ends. Take precautionary steps before you do laundry to make your life easier. For example, defeat the abominable sock monster. Ten pairs go in the wash, but one sock—ALWAYS one sock—is missing. Or you spend time picking through piles trying to find each one. Jillee suggests that lingerie bags are the way to go. Ever since I started using mine, they’re always paired up.

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Although it’s easy to cut corners, don’t cheap out and make your life more difficult in the long run.

“Many people don’t know that even if you wear something for a short period of time, stains can show up after the fact,” says Lindsey Boyd, marketing expert for The Laundress. “Don’t second guess, just wash and clean everything. Perfume, body products and dirt show up later. Even if you don’t see spots, it doesn’t mean it’s not dirty!”

3). Stop spending time on stains. You don’t need to put your sauce-stained dress shirt through the wash five times. You’d be surprised how many stain secrets are out there—and how much time it will save you. For example, did you know sunlight is one of the best solutions for tomato-based stains? And chalk is one of the best solutions for grease stains? Or that white bread can blot out a lipstick stain? Take a look at some of these helpful hints to remove those bad boys:

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  • Money-saving tip: According to parents.com, you should set your washer to cold water. Did you know the average hot-water load of laundry costs 68 cents per load–$268 per year? The same load, using cold water, costs four cents and $16 per year.

Tip #2: Create a working environment

Laundry requires more than a working washer and dryer. So you have the essentials, great—but do you have the room you need? Do you have a place to put your dirty clothes waiting to be washed, or a table to fold your warm and dry clothes?

Here are a few things you need to keep a clean—but more importantly, efficient—laundry room.

  • Behind-the-door shelves. Shelf space is very necessary, but extra useful when it’s hidden. Placing a few shelves behind your door—or even hanging on the back of your door—will add storage space and save you room.

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If you’re not a fan of shelves, consider using some baskets, drawers or even towel racks to place some of your things. Take a look at these storage-saving racks from Rachel’s organizing blog. 

  • DIY drying rack. I prefer collapsible drying racks in between the washer and dryer. If your laundry room needs some decoration, you could even add a vintage ladder for drying use. Be creative. Use a recycled ladder that can fold down or hang a few hooks up in your laundry room for hangers.

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  • Folding station. We all need space to fold our clothes. I constantly take things out of the dryer, begin to fold them, but am interrupted by disorganized clutter on top of the dryer—leaving me with no steady surface to fold my now-wrinkled clothes. If you’re not using shelves directly over your front-load washer or dryer, put in a simple counter and get to folding!

Tip #3- Utilize storage! (You knew that was coming)  

Now that you have the tools you need, let’s get to stor-ganizing.

Do you leave your bottles of detergent, bleach, etc. all over the floor because you have no designated place for them? It’s time to show your clutter who’s boss. Utilize your space—no matter how small it may be—so you can easily access equipment without sprawling it all over the room.

Ironing Board: Let’s be real. Just because it’s called a “laundry” room, you use it for other things too—like ironing your clothes. Please, for our sake, save yourself the space and hassle by storing it wisely.

Hang it on the wall or back of the door when it’s not in use. If you’re tight on space, check out this smaller DIY ironing board made from a fold-up desk.

Detergents: Now that you have designated shelves or baskets for your detergent, fabric softener, bleach and cleaning supplies, let’s minimize the bulk even more.

Full detergent bottles can be close to 30 pounds. Add on your other cleaners, and your newly added shelf is carrying some serious weight. The solution? Mason jars. Mary Gagliardi, known as “Dr. Laundry,” swears by these. Go from something as bulky and unattractive as this,

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…to something as minimal and decorative as this:

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  • Money-saving tip: You can make your own dryer sheets made two ways: One from aluminum foil (that can be reused up to 30 times) and one from a dried washcloth dipped in fabric softener. Try it!

Washer and Dryer. These are the stars of the show, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be stored wisely too. If your space is cramped, what about stacking your washer and dryer? Many compact laundry rooms hardly have room for these machines, but stacking them will double your laundry room space. Not to mention, you can make it look stylish, too.

Laundry might seem like a hassle, but with a few add-ons—and takeaways—you might even start to enjoy the task. Okay, maybe not… but at least you have a few space-saving ways to start.

Do you have any laundry space or storage tips? Contact me @jennystorage. I’d love to hear them.

Kristin Sullivan

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  • http://www.unclebobs.com Josh

    Hi Mary Beth, so far we’ve found two outlets that sell them:

    World Market http://bit.ly/1kfi1I4

    and

    Kegworks http://bit.ly/1uiGY8K

  • Mary Beth Capps

    I was wondering where I might purchase the mason jars with the spout? Thanks!